The new VW Tiguan: a mouthful but it's on everyone's lips
BIGGER, BETTER LOOKING AND MORE HIGH-TECH, TIGUAN IS IN HIGH DEMAND
There's one major problem Volkswagen New Zealand has when it comes to the new Tiguan SUV. It's not pre-sales. It's not factory supply. It's how to pronounce the name.
The second-generation Tiguan has had a major overhaul of its exterior and interior design, and its technology.
It is powered by a new 2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine producing 132kW of power and 320Nm of torque, or a 2-litre diesel (110kW/340Nm). The Tiguan comes in two-wheel and all-wheel drive with a 7-speed DSG transmission.
The two-wheel-drive Comfortline is priced from $41,990; add $6000 for the Highline specced version.
The all-wheel-drive Highline is priced from $57,990 for the TSI petrol and $59,990 for the TDI diesel.
Early next year the sporty R-Line joins the line-up, priced from $66,990.
Volkswagen NZ has had an unprecedented number of pre-sales for the medium SUV, says general manager Tom Ruddenklau.
"It's the best we've ever had, with hundreds of pre-sales," he tells Driven.
"But we still have the problem that not a lot of people know how to say Tiguan."
For the record, it's pronounced Tig-wharn.
VW NZ had 260 pre-orders for the Tiguan, and a further 250 for the R-Line. Ruddenklau expects to sell 1500 Tiguans in 2017.
While the SUV segment is New Zealand's fastest growing, accounting for 37 per cent of new vehicle registrations, Ruddenklau has taken a distinctive approach to the launch of Tiguan.
While Volkswagen worldwide has been hit by the emissions cheat scandal, Ruddenklau says his "customer base is very loyal and has told us they are very loyal".
So he contacted the VW factory and had a Tiguan specially sent to New Zealand for a customer-only tour of the country, weeks ahead of the official on-sale date.
The Tiguan went to VW's 16 New Zealand dealerships, even heading to Invercargill where the new car yard hasn't been built.
The strategy paid off for Ruddenklau with "pre-sales for the Tiguan a big success".
The new Tiguan has a more masculine look than generation one. Gone are the round headlights and curved front and rear panels, instead replaced with narrow lights and thinner, more appealing grille with twin parallel lines on the bonnet giving an appearance of power and width.
The Highline model has a new grille and front LED headlights, plus a high side shoulder line.
The door mirrors have been redesigned, improving the aerodynamics. The rear has 3D lights plus a larger electric tailgate.
The all-new Tiguan's length has increased by 6cm over the first generation SUV, it is 3cm wider and has an increased boot space of 615 litres over the previous 470 litres, but weighs 17kg less than before.
VW's four-wheel-drive system, 4Motion, is also available in the Highline and R-Line models and the Tiguan has an impressive 2.5 tonne towing capacity, the best in its class.
Its competitors include the Ford Kuga, Hyundai's Tucson, Mazda's CX-5, the new Kia Sportage, Nissan's Qashqai and X-Trail, the Toyota RAV4 plus European models including BMW's X1, Volvo's XC60, and the Range Rover Evoque.
The new Tiguan sits on VW Group's MQB platform (also used in the VW Golf and Audi A3). The medium SUV is available with 17, 19 or 20-inch tyres.
It also gains Audi's virtual cockpit (one of my favourite interior design features of recent years); VW calls it active display.
The new Tiguan offers smartphone apps including CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.
There are also impressive safety features, among them front assist that uses a radar to give audible and visual warnings, and automatic stopping via City Emergency Braking.
It also comes with an active bonnet that lifts up if you hit a pedestrian to prevent impact with the engine.
There is also Lane Assist, blind spot monitoring via Side Assist, and the bonus of a rear traffic alert that warns you of passing cars as you reverse out of a parking spot.
But, if the Tiguan is the family car, the system that will impress the most is the new personalisation function. You can have four accounts set up with "hundreds of options", says VW NZ. They include your seat position, favourite radio stations, and ambient lighting.
It's a fun and practical function -- especially with VW NZ's demonstration of "Gran" mode (seat high and close to the steering wheel, plus talkback radio) and "Bro" mode (seat low, leaning back and far from the steering wheel with rock music stations) -- all executed by touching the infotainment screen.
The 4Motion system includes on-road, off-road, snow and individual off-road modes, with the ability to change mode at any speed.
I tested the 2-litre petrol Highline last week, which had the addition of the $1000 adaptive cruise control on top of the standard price of $57,990.
The new exterior makes a significant change to its road presence, while the interior is sophisticated with the addition of two fold out trays for rear passengers.
I liked that I was able to knock down the gear lever into sport model when I wanted more power, especially when I headed on to open roads.
The road handling was sturdy and the suspension coped with tight cornering at speed. The Tiguan proved it wasn't just an urban vehicle, being more than capable of off-roading and trips out to city limits.
On the downside, I found noticeable cabin noise when driving on the open road, and the petrol engine sound intruded inside when idling at lights.
VW has found a steady customer base with the previous Tiguan so you can bet that with this innovative model, more Kiwis will be trying it, no matter how they try to pronounce the name.